November 3, 2009

Dear Jack, Month 29

Dear Jack,

Part of being a good parent is teaching your child to look both ways before he crosses the street. It's the very first thing they teach you in Parenting School. And while we've failed you in some areas, this is one area in which we have excelled: teaching you to be careful in high traffic areas.

You always grab our hand and let us know if a car does so much as look like it's going to start rolling in our direction . . . even if it's two or three parking lots away. You hold our hand, look both ways and are usually (but not always) very cautious.

But it's always been a little bit awkward to hold your hand. You just grab two or three of our fingers and we kind of clasp your wrist in order to keep you safe . . . until just recently.

After your brother's doctor's appointment last week, we convinced you that Bennigan's hamburgers were, in fact, as good as McDonald's hamburgers and we all enjoyed a sit down meal together. You disagreed with our opinion on their hamburgers because your basis for judging burger quality lies solely in whether or not a prize comes with it. Nonetheless, we made it through the meal without any major meltdowns.

On our way out to the car, Dad was carrying Ben so you reached up and grabbed my hand as we stepped off the curb. As we were walking toward the car, I realized that we weren't struggling to keep a good grip on each other. Our hands fit together nicely. I squeezed your hand and you squeezed me back. It was such a small, quick moment. One that some people wouldn't have thought twice about. But that moment is lodged in my memory and will probably stay there forever. It's one of those moments that shouldn't really mean much but is of great significance to me. It was confirmation of what I already knew . . . you're not a baby. You're a little boy.

You're also a stinky boy. You sweat. And get dirty. I laid down with you for a few minutes before your nap the other day and I couldn't get over how much you smelled like a locker room after a morning of playing and wrestling with your dad. You and I went on a date tonight to Culver's and I just laughed as I watched you wipe the ketchup from your chin onto your sleeve as if that is why God made sleeves.

You're an active boy, too. While you can still be very gentle you are, in general, pretty rough. You like to tackle and throw and run and yell and roar and jump. Your volume control is lacking and we've begun to explain the difference between outdoor and indoor voices . . . and you have very little regard for our explanation. Have you always been this loud and we're just now noticing it?

You're an appropriately temperamental boy, as well. You scream when you don't get your way. And I mean a high-pitched, piercing scream that sends shivers down my spine. You've actually started to use that scream when you get hurt or are seeking attention, too. It's just lovely.

You yell when you're angry about something. You clench your fists and stomp when we send you to your room to have your temper tantrums. It's hard on me because I don't always know how to handle it . . . especially because I'm simultaneously trying to take your brother. But I know that it's hard on you, too, because you're also trying to figure out how to handle it.

This afternoon was probably one of the hardest afternoons we've had since Ben was born. Your screaming and tantrums were at an all time high and you kept insisting that I pick you up. You also complained over and over that you wanted baby brother to go back into my tummy. It's been almost 6 weeks, and up until now you haven't really shown any signs of jealousy or feelings of neglect. It broke my heart to hear those things . . . not because I really think you want baby brother to not be here, but because we might not be spending enough time one-on-one with you. So, we had our date tonight, but I know that it doesn't solve everything.

You and your Dad and your brother are the most important things in the world to me. I love my work, but it will never be as important to me as taking care of my boys. I hope that if you someday are able to remember this time in your life, that you'll be able to read this and realize that I was trying as hard as I could to take care of everyone. I can't explain it to you so that you'll understand now, but I hope that when you remember me yelling at you or putting you in time out or sending you to your room to have your tantrum, that you'll understand that just because I wasn't perfect at handling every discipline issue doesn't mean that I wasn't trying. It doesn't mean that I don't love you.

Our relationship has changed over the last few weeks, as you've become more of "my little boy" and less of "my baby." And while I miss having you as my baby, I would never go back. Because despite the tantrums and frustration that this new stage brings, I'm so proud of who you're becoming. I'm so proud to be your mom.

I love you.



Anonymous said...

I always love your "Dear Jack" notes, but I especially loved this one!

Cracked up at his evaluation of a "real" burger; my boys would agree with him, unfortunately.

And he'll get used to Ben, just wait. It honestly took Luke quite a while to care that our Bennett was a member of the family at all, but he came around and now they're best buddies.

Tara said...

This made me cry...because I can so relate.
And it made me laugh, too. :)
This was a great Dear Jack letter.
He is such a handsome big boy. :)